I Hate Skiing, Should I Visit Queenstown in Winter?

August 16th, 2016

For many places tourism is a seasonal affair. The advantage we have in Queenstown is that most activities can be accessed all year round regardless of the weather. While it’s true that the majority of Queenstown’s winter-visitors are only there for the (admittedly excellent) skiing and snowboarding, there’s still plenty of fun to be had off the slopes.


So what exactly is there to do in and around Queenstown between June and September that doesn’t involve skiing? Plenty, as it turns out! Here are some of our favourite off-piste winter-time activities:


  1. Snowshoeing – quite literally, hiking in the snow wearing specialized snow-shoes. These are personalized guided tours for small groups that explores the snow-covered wilderness of the back-country. No skiing experience necessary, if you can walk, you can snow-shoe.


  1. Mountaineering – fancy recreating the Everest experience in the relative comfort and safety of Queenstown’s backyard? Go mountaineering! These guided expeditions range from a single day trip to an epic three day trek. Available at all skill levels and guides are always on hand to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


  1. Snowmobiles – laugh the people slowly trudging up a mountain in snowshoes as you zoom past them in your very own snowmobile. Explore Queenstown’s back-country wilderness travelling on exclusive snowmobile trails. Some of these trails are so remote they are accessible only by helicopter. These are professionally guided tours and limited to individuals or small groups.


  1. Chairlift Ride – to some, the chairlift ride up a mountain is the best part of the whole skiing experience. So why not simply enjoy the relaxing chairlift ride without all the hassle of carrying bulky ski equipment? Take in the incredible panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from your vantage point in the sky as you slowly ascend the ski-lift. Enjoy a spot of lunch or a cup of warm cocoa at the top of the mountain before descending back down to earth in another chairlift.


  1. Go Skating – who says you need to brave the elements to enjoy some winter fun? Located in nearby Queenstown Gardens, Queenstown Ice Arena is a world-class indoor skating rink that lets you unleash your inner Tonya Harding in a safe and controlled environment. No need to bring your own gear as the arena has rentals.


And if that’s not enough, you can also go on an outdoor nature hike, bike tour, scenic boat cruise, wine-tasting tour, aerial sightseeing tour plus all the regular parasailing, jetboating, skydiving, bungy jumping, whitewater-rafting insanity Queenstown is famous for. Even if you have no intention of lacing up a pair of ski-boots, there are an endless amount of things to see and do in Queenstown in the winter.

So we here at Absoloot Value Hostel Queenstown look forward to seeing you soon!

The Snow Is Back In Queenstown

July 21st, 2016

After a disappointing start to winter, the snow is back in Queenstown! A snowstorm has spread across the area dumping tons of snow on the ski-fields of the adventure capital of the world – welcome news for the many tourists who have descended upon Queenstown for the winter ski season. The snowfall started on July 14 and continued for many days beyond, covering both Coronet Peak and The Remarkables.


Coronet Peak saw some 10cm of fresh snow cover in just one night while The Remarkable’s boasted an impressive 12cm to 16cm of snow cover. The forecast looks favorable for the next couple days with more heavy snowfall amid intermittent sunshine. Needless to say, Queenstowns skiers and snowboarders are more than happy to take advantage of the good conditions while they last.


The heavy snowfall coincides with the start of New Zealand’s school holidays, which is great news for Queenstown’s two large ski fields and related businesses across town.



Representatives from both snow-fields were predictably upbeat about the recent deluge of snow. The Remarkables ski area manager Ross Lawrence stated that the new snowfall had “changed the landscape” of the slopes, and went on to say that everyone was “…very excited and people up here are absolutely fizzing about the conditions.” Lawrence went on to add that he expects the snowfall to increase in the next couple of days and that visitors to the ski-field were having a blast “…watching the snowfall, which is a highlight for those on holiday.”

If you are looking ofr a great, yet affordable place to stay, then check out Absoloot Value Backpackers right in the heart of Queenstown

Winterfest 2016

June 24th, 2016

Well it’s that time of year again.  The Winter season has begun here in Queenstown, and whilst the weather isn’t entirely on our side right now, we’re all well aware June is a little early to expect lashings of the white stuff.  Coronet Peak might be looking a little sad right now, but Cardrona and The Remarkables have plenty of terrain open to rip quality turns on, so there’s no excuse to keep that board shelved.

But let’s be honest – you’re not just coming to Queenstown for the shred times.  You’re coming over for the good times as well, when the shred times are being held hostage by Mother Nature.  And the pinnacle of our Winter good times has to be good ol’ Winterfest.  The setup is in full swing, and Earnslaw Park is looking more like the venue for a music festival, rather than a quaint little patch of green to park yourself while munching on your Fergburger.

Queenstowns’ Winterfest is now in it’s 42nd year, which means it’s officially at an age where it should be buying a sports car and dying out the grey hairs.  And the more you consider it, the more this analogy is kind of true – the festival isn’t resigning itself to its’ age – it is grabbing ‘life by the proverbial balls’, and putting on a better and bigger show year after year, with 2016 no exception.  The stage is set, the fireworks prepped, and we’re salivating at the eatery options already being parked outside our front door.

Queenstown Winter festival

Being right next door to a majority of the festivities, we have the luxury of being able to enjoy the opening night fireworks from our kitchen and watching the main stage from guest rooms, if one is not inclined to go outside into the melee.  But to hell with it – throw caution to the wind and get involved.  Grab a venison burger and a Rekorderlig Cider at the beach side bar, have a boogie in front of the band, and finish your night with a cheeky Churro on your way back to the only Queenstown Hostel or Accommodation that’s inside the festival gates.  Sounds awful, right?

The following week has a jam-packed program of events and festivities, and if there’s nothing there that doesn’t get you excited in some way, shape or form, then you should probably check that your icey heart is still beating.  So do yourself a favour and make sure you’re here for the festivities if you’re not here this year.  And do yourself even more of a favour and book yourself into the best located accommodation in town – because we know how much no one likes to walk!

Big Opening to Queenstown’s 2016 Ski Season This Weekend

June 9th, 2016

The 2016 ski season is set to start with a bang as Coronet Peak opens its doors to the public this Saturday at 9am. Organizers plan to celebrate this auspicious event by handing out commemorative “First on Chair” T-shirts to the first six bums that hit the lifts. Also, as an added bonus for early bird skiers and snowboards, the first 100 in line will get complimentary coffee and breakfast rolls. And if that’s not enough Coronet Peak staff will also hand out celebratory glasses of Champagne (okay, Amisfield sparkling wine – close enough) and other spot prizes!

While there has been some concern about the weather this weekend, NZSki’s Coronet Peak boss Ross Copland is optimistic, saying “The Sydney weather bomb is currently tracking our way, fuelled by some very strong winds, but that’s not going to dampen our spirits.”


Copland assures us that his staff is doing everything possible to ensure a smooth opening on Saturday for Queenstown’s skiers and snowboarders itching to get their first runs of the season. In fact, this so called weather-bomb might even bring in added benefits in the form of heavy snow-fall, causing some of the best pre-season snow cover in years.

Other services scheduled to open on Saturday include rental facilities, the Snowsports school, the Coronet restaurant and café, coffee bar and related guest services such as the retail Snow Shop and Skiwiland daycare for kids.

Be first in line when the Coronet Express chairlift roars into action at Coronet Peak on Saturday June 11 at 9am and get a head start on the best skiing and snowboarding trails in the Southern Hemisphere. Can’t make it for Coronet Peak’s grand opening? Not to worry – the Remarkables are scheduled to open a week later on Saturday June 18.

For room reservations or tickets to any ski field in Queenstown for the 2016 winter season contact us at Absoloot Queenstown Backpackers and we’ll sort you out!




Change Of Season For Queenstown

October 26th, 2015

We’ve escaped winter’s clutches once and for all and have leapt headfirst into spring. The New Zealand Tourism Guide™ website describes October as a “gardeners’ delight”, exhorting readers to visit New Zealand’s many public and private gardens and enjoy the wonderful spring flowers in bloom during the month.

In our experience people vacationing in Queenstown in spring are looking for something more active than staring at plants (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For much of our clientele, spring is where they hang up their skis and winter jackets, grab a bike and head for the trails!

Do you miss the thrill of almost breaking your leg while slaloming down a winding ski trail now that winter is gone? You can experience all that again, only this time perched atop a sturdy mountain bike crashing through the undergrowth as you race down a dirt path on the side of a hill. The seasons change, but here in Queenstown there are endless avenues of high-octane fun, and plenty of likeminded people to experience it with. Have a buddy record a YouTube masterpiece of you heroically navigating a precarious mountain pass, or falling hilariously on your ass as you try to Dave Mirra a ramp meant for the under-twelves. Either way you’re going feel like a hero when you share the clip with your fellow office drones.

Queenstown even offers New Zealand’s first Gondola assisted bike lift, taking intrepid cyclists all the way up Queenstown Bike Park (the laws of gravity and your skills on a mountain bike will do the rest.) Over 120 kilometres of bike trails await! Snap on the bike helmet, ugly green t-shirt you’ve been saving for the occasion, overly expensive bike gloves you bought online and relive the BMX dreams of your youth. You may only be one wipeout away from a shattered tibia, but you’ll never feel so energized and alive.

Affordable half-day and all-day passes are available, or go the whole hog and grab a season’s pass. You can arrange a bike trip through us or with one of the many fine operators here in Queenstown. And at the end of a hard day’s riding through some of the most ruggedly beautiful terrain on God’s green earth you always* have a hot shower, clean sheets and a warm bed to return to at Absoloot Value Accommodation (*book in advance or we can’t guarantee anything).

Time For A Holiday In Queenstown

September 28th, 2015

As we slowly emerge from the icy grip of winter into the warming embrace of spring, we notice that fashions start to change along with the weather; thermals, gloves and winter-jackets give way to reassuringly bland earth-tone sweaters and unnecessarily bright raincoats. Flowers bloom, bees buzz, woodland animals shake themselves awake from their long winter hibernation and other spring clichés happen. You too may be filled with a vague sense of longing or restlessness – a common affliction that affects many of us this time of year.

Luckily, there is a cure for the spring doldrums! Drop everything and go on holiday. Cash in your accumulated sick days from work and take an impromptu vacation. Your workmates will be jealous and your boss will hate you (but he probably already does so no great loss there). Convince your significant other to tag along, or ask that special guy or girl in your life to join you. Be spontaneous, be reckless. You have a lifetime of office drudgery and crippling credit card debt to go back to; spring is here and demands your attention – NOW!

Normally I’m a huge advocate of the throw-a-dartboard-at-a-map approach to holidaymaking – but seeing as I work for Absoloot Value Accommodations Pvt. Ltd. and live in beautiful Queenstown, I have to be biased and recommend our fair resort town as your next spring holiday destination. Sure there are plenty of tourist destinations vying for your attention, especially nowadays when the world seems so much smaller, but I guarantee you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere in the world that matches Queenstown’s mix of value, adventure and sheer natural beauty.

I won’t waste column space hyping up Queenstown as New Zealand’s top tourist destination. Google any article about New Zealand tourism and you’ll likely see Queenstown mentioned. We regularly make those annoying top-ten tourist hotspots lists you see all over the web. There’s so much to experience here that you’ll never complete it in one trip – many of our guests are return customers, some have been coming here for years.

Adrenalin junkies can choose between jetboat rides on Shotover River or bungy jumping off various scenic bridges and canyons scattered across town. If white knuckle boat-rides or jumping off bridges wasn’t death-defying enough, you could try skydiving or going canyoning (which is where you abseil over rocky canyons and raging rapids – which some people find fun, I am reliably informed). Those with more conventional tastes can just hang out by the lake, go on a relaxing bike ride in the country, hit the spa or go on a wine tasting tour.

Everything there is to do in Queenstown, we can organise for you. Or at the very least point you in the right direction and send you off to embark on your very own adventure. Beat the spring blues, come to Queenstown. A weekend or week long stay in our fair city is surprisingly affordable – especially right now as the winter rush is behind us and you can take advantage of our off-peak rates. What are you waiting for? Escape from your life for a little while, it’s good for the soul.

We look forward to seeing you at the best backpackers in Queenstown

Winter is coming…

May 24th, 2015

Winter is well and truly on her way early this year, and alongside this anticipation of our old friend returning, we also have many exciting things on the horizon. Summer decided to come to a very abrupt and sudden end this year, with mad rain storms, a few cheeky earthquakes and even heavy snow in town during April and May. Which is terrible for those summer loving kids but for us winter children, the excitement of the looming snow season is so very sweet. Obviously too much hope is a dangerous thing and no one wants to jinx anything, but the storms keep coming, and every time the skies clear there is a bit more snow on the peaks. Furthermore, the ski fields all have a generous dusting already so there is much optimism in our hearts for an epic winter.

Now for our exciting news, Absoloot is getting one hell of a sexy make over just in time for winter. We are getting upgrading both our facilities and also the building will be getting a revamp. In terms of the facilities upgrade, we are getting a new kitchen, new lounge room and new dorm style bathroom. The building upgrades include new double glazed windows, all the plumbing is being renewed, the exterior is being repainted and also a new glass front awning. How goddam exciting!

We really wanted to treat our guests to a bigger kitchen area, as it has been apparent for a while that our old kitchen was inconveniently small. With that in mind we are building a fabulous new kitchen on the second level and it is going to come with an outstanding view! So in the space that our old kitchen occupied is now going to be the lounge room. It will be smaller, but more awesome. To alleviate the problem of having less space, we are going to have tiered seating, theatre style! There will also be 2 flat screen TVs – one for movies and one for video games. Furthermore we are throwing in a quiet room for skype calls, so it just gets better and better! Now onto our luxury new bathroom, previously all of rooms had been en-suite, however this can cause significant waiting times especially in the 6 bed dorms. So now we are building a lovely new dorm style bathroom to alleviate this problem and also we are now giving our guests the option of cheaper non en-suite dorm rooms.

The building renovations will be giving more life to very old building! We will now be more structurally secure and everything will operate more smoothly. Not to mention we will look a hell of a lot more spectacular!

So that is what is going on in our world right now…Waiting for winter and waiting for our makeover to be complete! We are currently closed to the public until the 18th June and we will be re-opening with a bang just in time for winter fest madness. So hold onto your hats kids, exciting times ahead!

Timing in Life is Everything

September 17th, 2014

You’ve probably heard this statement at one point in your life or another.  Typically – or at least in our experience – it’s stated just after a missed opportunity, when it feels more like salt in the wound, and probably pretty unappreciated at that point.  It’s all well and good that said paremiologist (someone who studies proverbs: Thanks ‘Google’) is just trying to remind you about one of life’s greatest lessons, but what exactly are we expected to learn from this simple statement of fact?

In our collective opinion, probably nothing.  The only real way any ‘lesson’ can be learned is if there was a specific time you were meant to be somewhere, and inevitably you weren’t.  However, that would allude more to you being an unpunctual shite, rather than someone on the receiving end of a universal ass-kicking as such.  So maybe get on that.

There are however, certain situations in which you CAN increase your chances of not suffering through a timing mishap.  From a Queenstown perspective, we get asked all the time (seriously, ALL the time) when is the best time to come for this, that, and the other.  Each situation is different, but in this instance we’ll concentrate specifically on the one we’re asked most about, which is “when should I come to Queenstown for work/houses/general living?”.

The answer is:  before the peak-season, and this goes for both Summer and Winter.  When is peak-season?  Generally speaking, peak-season Summer is normally between mid-December and Easter, whilst peak-season Winter is normally between Winterfest (20th-ish of June) to end of August.  And when we say ‘before’, we don’t mean by a couple of days, we mean by a solid 4 – 6 weeks at least.  Each season, just before it really kicks-off in town, comes the rush of all the wannabe seasonaires, all freaking out about their inability to find work or a house, frantically printing off resume’s and complaining about how “everything in the Lakes Weekly Bulletin (QT bible) is taken!  This is *expletive*!”.  And the reason they’re doing that?  Because YOU were smart enough to get here earlier, and get that job/house/car that they really wanted.

But that’s not to say you’re going to walk straight into your chosen profession, with a fully-furnished room downtown for less than $120 a week just because you got here early.  Oh no.  What you need to do is come here with an open mind, and enough cash to last you a couple of months in a hostel + bond/letting fee for new house + car + season pass (if Winter is your bag) etc. etc.  That way, when you do finally get a job, you’re not just living pay-check to pay-check, and you can actually afford to enjoy Queenstown in it’s entirety.  It’s also to avoid the doldrums of not finding work, as unfortunately it’s this same time of year that employers will hold off hiring staff for as long as they can to keep operating costs low.  But if you’re here with your foot in the door earlier than 90% of the other seasonaires, you’ve already increased your chances by 90%.

So timing in life IS everything, and you can increase your odds, but maybe in this instance “the early bird catches the worm” and “beggars can’t be choosers” work just as aptly in this case.   So do yourself a favour – get here early, get your foot in the door, and don’t expect to be handed everything on a silver platter – because timing in life is everything…


Mother Nature: The Most Unpredictable Mature Woman Ever…

August 29th, 2014

She’s an erratic and unreliable entity at the best of times, and you’d be wise to remain cautious even when everything looks calm on the horizon.  Or at least that’s how we do things in New Zealand.  We’d like to say there’s at least 1 season in our spectrum that is easy and gives us some vague concept of monotony in the weather-stakes, but that just isn’t the case.  Summer chops and changes, with long, warm, beach-side days, swiftly followed by arctic breezes, driving rain, and the notion that maybe somehow Autumn has arrived already.  And don’t even get us started on the Spring bastard.

However Winter is by far the strangest of beasts, which isn’t ideal when everyone is here specifically for the weather (or in actual fact the snow that it brings/doesn’t bring).  We often get enquiries prior to the season from guests wanting to ascertain the best time of Winter to come for skiing/boarding/general razzery, but we’d be withholding the truth if we didn’t have to follow up our suggestion with the fact that our crystal ball is more than a little cloudy.

Don’t get us wrong, every Winter season in the world is subject to a lean one every now and then, but there’s a significant difference between a lean season in say Banff, Canada, and little ol’ us down here in NZ’s South Island.  In saying that, every Winter season in the world also has the potential to bring swathes of the white and fluffy stuff, with bluebird powder days on the regular and down days few and far between.  Unfortunately though, it doesn’t matter how good the technology gets in the department of meteorology, because we’re all – especially here – subject to the moods and subsequent wrath of Mother Nature and her merry band of weather conditions.

Take this season for example – during Winterfest (what is meant to be the official start of Winter), things were looking a little brown.  This isn’t the first time by the way, and it won’t be the last, which really only highlights the fact that Winterfest is simply too early in the season, rather than it being an indication of a less-than-stellar season.  But either way, it was a lean start to the season, which of course starts the grumblings from both the tourists and the locals.  This lean-ness continued for quite a while, until in August (the latter part of which we typically tout as the best time to come by the way) Winter turned itself on in a big way.  A big, BIG way by New Zealand standards, with a 2 week period of 20-30cm dumps, taking the base snow-level at The Remarkables from a decidedly meagre 50cm average to a stratospheric (for us) 17ocm average.  Face shots were plentiful, high-fives were handed around in spades, and all-in-all everyone’s ‘stoke’ levels were peaking.

Now, we know what you’re saying – Australia started the season so much better, blah blah blah blah.  Of course there’s always competition between the 2 countries for the Southern Hemisphere snow crown (Chile doesn’t get included – it’s too far away :P).  But anyone who knows anything knows that Australia’s seasons is as unpredictable as ours, and it just happens to be that this season was their season.  Next year it might be ours, and who knows thereafter.  All we know is, at the end of day the major difference between the Australian Ski-fields and Queenstown, is that if the weather doesn’t play ball and you’re suffering through a lot of down days, at least here there is a whole lot more to fill your day with.  We are the adventure capital of the Southern Hemisphere, not to mention the fact that our night-life and culinary options are plentiful and varied, which means that you can still have the time of your life even when the weather isn’t playing ball.  Top that off with the fact that everything is cheaper, the exchange rate is typically favourable, and let’s face it, our views are better, suddenly the flight over doesn’t look like such a burden.

So don’t expect too much, and don’t lose faith either – just remember, you simply can’t trust Mother Nature.  Insufferable b*#@h.



The Trouble of Maintaining Relationships in a Resort Town

August 18th, 2014

To most outsiders living in a resort town must seem like an idyllic existence. After all, your home is a vacation destination for millions. People from all over the world spend their hard earned money for the privilege of visiting and spending time in a place that you already call home. When looked at from another angle – from the perspective of the permanent residents of these towns – things take on a more skewed perspective. Many year round Queenstown residents see the millions of tourists who pass through their town as “day-walkers” or, to put it in less flattering terms, “cash-cows.” They also tend to see the seasonal staff that fill in the temporary jobs during the height of the tourist season as “seasonaries” – i.e. people with temporary jobs, temporary cars, temporary homes and even temporary phones.

So far this is nothing out of the ordinary for resort towns all across the world. What causes problems among the permanent community, however, is forming relationships with these temporary visitors. It could be a weekend fling with a backpacker passing through, or it could be a torrid month long affair with a guest worker who is only there for the summer. While relationships are nice – forming these connections and then saying goodbye at the end of the week/month/season over and over again is not. Sadly this is a reality for many full time residents in vacation communities. Forming long lasting relationships or friendships with outsiders/guests/visitors is simply not an option due to the seasonal nature of the community.

This cycle of seasonal relationship followed by breakup changes people. For some, it hardens their hearts to outsiders. They’ll be happy to serve them, work with them and earn a living off them, but they draw a line in the sand when it comes to forming any real connection. They’ve been burned too many times before to go down that path once again. This is problematic because it denies the lifelong resident what could otherwise be meaningful and mutually rewarding relationships with people from all over the world and all walks of life. They essentially become the “insular, unfriendly local” stereotype.

On the other hand, some year-long residents believe that it does not matter how long a person stays in their community. They simply accept fleeting relationships and brief friendships as par for the course. These folks tend to focus more on the people they meet and experiences they have rather than the time they spend with them. This is the healthier option when it comes to relationships, friendships or even basic human interactions in a resort city like Queenstown. Humans are inherently social creatures, and will always want to be with their fellow man or woman – even if for a limited amount of time. Whether having a 5 minute chat over coffee with a perfect stranger or falling in love with someone who may not be here when the season changes, we all need that human touch.

In spite of the difficulty of finding something permanent with the huge numbers of people who pass through their shores, people in resort towns and vacation hotspots all over the world should count themselves lucky – not just for the beautiful place they call home, but also for the opportunity to be exposed to a lifetime experiences in their own back yards.